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Can You Play Sports After Getting a Tattoo? What to Know

We get a lot of athletes in our studios. It makes sense, given that a tattoo can certainly help enhance an athletic physique. But of course fitness spans far beyond aesthetics for most, and many of you plan on diving right back into your favorite sports soon after getting a tattoo. But after some thought you realize that it may not be a good idea, especially when there is hard contact with others, equipment, and even a hard playing surface. Today we’re going to take a look at popular sports that you may play casually or competitively and whether or not it’s a good idea to participate before your tattoo has completely healed.

5 Sports to Avoid Before Your New Tattoo Has Healed


These are two similar hard contact sports. Every part of your body can get hit and even if you’re wearing appropriate gear (football) your tattoo will face extreme friction that can significantly hamper your skin’s ability to heal. Infection will likely ensue and if you’ve returned to the field within days of receiving the tattoo the ink tones may suffer as well. These are two sports where you must absolutely wait until the tattoo has fully healed before suiting up. Wait for at least one-month, assuming that you’ve followed the prescribed aftercare regime successfully.


There is no skin-to-skin contact in ice hockey, given that you’re outfitted from head-to-toe in gear, but the impact and subsequent friction is there all the same. In addition, the sweat and bacteria buildup that occurs within your padding with introduce additional threats to your healing skin. Again, wait until your tattoo has fully healed if playing full contact ice hockey, especially if you’re an enforcer (aka goon).


For the purposes of this article we’re going to loop boxing, grappling/wrestling, and all forms of martial arts into the mix. All involve significant and violent skin-to-skin contact and friction which can be disastrous to a healing tattoo, even if bandaged (good luck keep that on after getting locked into a chokehold). Your opponent’s sweat contains a large amount of bacteria and the arena floor is riddled with germs so it’s best to err on the side of caution and wait before getting back into the ring. That said, if you’re a pure boxer in training and sparring, or fighting in a sanctioned event, you can get away with a bout when you have a healing tattoo on your lower extremity – just be sure to bandage it well and clean it promptly after you’ve taken the gloves off.


The most popular seasonal sport in Greater Vancouver (home to two of our studios) is snowboarding. While tattoos are very common to the culture, you must be mindful before hitting the slopes, waiting approximately three weeks when you have received a significantly sized tattoo. That said, there are other variables to consider and given the popularity of snowboarding in Canada, we have provided a detailed guide about snowboarding after getting a tattoo. Please read it.

Water Sports

Water sports are also very popular while presenting significant risk to a new tattoo. Ocean based sports in particular require careful consideration. For example, surfing not only exposes your tattoo to harmful (to a healing tattoo) saltwater it also results in contact friction when a tattooed part of your body lays on the board. Both lake and ocean water may also contain contaminants that can result in infection of an open sore (i.e. the epidermis where your tattoo was applied),  so if water quality is in question keep your body out of a given body of water until the work has fully healed. View more on what you need to know about going into the ocean after getting a tattoo, which applies to all common water sports.

Remember to let your tattooist know which sports and activities you plan on returning to soon after getting your tattoo. They will be able to provide detailed aftercare guidance and conduct followup inspections of the work with your track, court, arena, or field goals in mind. Contact an Adrenaline Studios near you to today to schedule a consultation.